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Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005

Volume 688: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2007

My honourable friend the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety (Tony McNulty) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Further to the report laid on 11 December 2006 as required by Section 14 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, I would like to provide a further update to Parliament in the light of recent developments.

There are currently 18 control orders in force. This includes the control order against the individual who absconded in September 2006. It does not include a further individual who absconded in August 2006 after a control order was made (i.e. signed), but before the order had been served. This order is therefore not in force. The position on these two absconders remains as set out in the Ministerial Statement of 11 December 2006.

The report of 11 December 2006 referred to an individual charged with breach of control order obligations. He was convicted earlier this month of failure to comply with daily reporting requirements and failure to notify the Home Office of a change of residence. He was sentenced to five months' imprisonment. This is the first conviction for an offence under the 2005 Act. Since the report of 11 December 2006, another individual has been charged with four counts of failure to comply with control order obligations, and is currently on remand in prison. These developments demonstrate that the police, prosecution authorities and the courts take breaches of control order obligations seriously.

The House will also want to be aware that an individual absconded earlier this month soon after being served with a control order. This individual is subject to one of the 18 control orders in force. The control order was designed to address the risk posed by an individual who had recently been radicalised and wanted to travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes. Obligations included a requirement to report daily to a police station, to surrender travel documents and to reside at a specified address. The individual is not believed to represent a direct threat to the public in the UK at this time.

Public safety is the top priority for the Government and the police. Locating the individual is an operational matter for the police. Investigations are ongoing. An anonymity order is in place and, after consulting the police, the Government are currently not seeking to overturn it.

Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of the 2005 Act, is due to report within the next few weeks on the operation of the Act during the past year.